More on the BBC Cuts

The BBC today announced its plans for the future, which include cuts in BBC Local Radio as well as the closure of 6 Music and the Asian Network.

The announcement follows the leaking of the plans in Friday’s edition of The Times.

When I wrote on Saturday morning, I looked at what the reaction was. Today however, I will look at some of the plans in detail and explain why I think the BBC has made the wrong decision, as well as looking at what you might be able to if you want to save the two stations.

And I’d like to hear from you if you have any opinions on this. You can e-mail me on, you can leave a message on the Fred Hart Online Facebook Fan Page, you can send a reply to @fredhartonline on Twitter, or you can fill in the form at the bottom of this page.

I will start with 6 Music:

The remit of BBC 6 Music is to entertain lovers of popular music with a service offering music from the 1960s to the present day. Its programmes juxtapose current releases outside the mainstream with earlier recordings, including music from the BBC Sound Archive. It should provide context for the music it plays, and support live music and new artists.

BBC 6 Music should:

  • Ensure that at least half of all music played each year is more than 4 years old.
  • Broadcast at least 400 hours of archive concert performances each year.
  • Ensure that at least 15% of music broadcast is concert tracks and sessions from the BBC’s music archive each year.
  • Broadcast at least 275 new sessions each year.
  • Contribute to BBC Radio’s commitment to commission at least 10% of eligable hours of output from independant producers.

Quoted from BBC 6 Music Service License
BBC Trust, April 2009

The text above is what the BBC Service License requires 6 Music to do each year. You can read the full document by clicking the above link.

The closure would be a mistake, because BBC 6 Music has supported new artists/unsigned artists who have benefited massively from the publicity. They may not be household names, but they wouldn’t be where they are now without the station’s support.

In addition, BBC 6 Music is covering areas that aren’t, and/or can’t be, covered by commercial radio; although there may be one or two commercials operating this sort of format, most stick to the mainstream pop/chart music.

In my opinion, the best shows on the station come from Chris Hawkins, Gideon Coe, Huey Morgan and Guy Garvey; we would loose all of these if 6 Music is closed.

Next up, the Asian Network:

The remit of BBC Asian Network is to provide speech and music output appealing to British Asians, with a strong focus on news and current affairs. It should be primarily in English, but some programming should be provided in a range of South Asian languages.

The primary target audience is British Asians under 35 but the station should also appeal to anyone with an interest in British Asian issues, music and culture.

BBC Asian Network should:

  • Ensure that content is approximately 50% speech and 50% music each year.
  • Ensure that each year at least 40% of the music in daytime is from from UK artists.
  • Contribute to BBC Radio’s commitment to commission at least 10% of eligable hours of output from independant producers.

Quoted from BBC Asian Network Service License
BBC Trust, April 2008

The Asian Network is an important part of the BBC in my opinion; and even though I personally don’t listen to close it would also be a mistake. Having a radio station catering for British Asians is a side effect of such a multi-cultural society.

There are some commercial radio stations covering the same ground as BBC AN. but only in major cities – Manchester, Birmingham, London etc and there is nothing for British Asians outside of these areas.

I’m not saying that every Asian person listens to the network – there are plenty who listen to the mainstream output on the other BBC services. But to loose the full time service means that, for those wanting a 24/7 station for British Asians the only option is commercial radio.

The station does also support new and/or unsigned artists – my Music Technology teacher at college has even had some tracks played on some of the network’s programmes.

On the other hand, perhaps British Asian issues should be covered by the mainstream BBC stations anyway? British Asians are as much a part of society as the Radio 1 and Radio 2 listeners.

Now perhaps one area that has been a little ignored in this controversy is BBC Local Radio. Mark Thompson has promised “better journalism” at peak times (breakfast/drivetime). Sounds like a good idea… but it would be funded by syndicating programmes between station.

Effectively, that means that if the plans go ahead, BBC Radio Gloucestershire‘s afternoon show could be broadcast from Bristol, or BBC Hereford and Worcester‘s mid-morning show could be broadcast from Shropshire.

The remit of BBC Local Radio is to provide a primarily speech based service of news, information and debate to urban and rural communities. Speech output should be complemented by music.

The target audience should be listeners aged 50 and over, who are not well served elsewhere. There should be a strong emphasis on interactivity and audience involvement.

Each BBC Local Radio station should:

  • Broadcast an average of at least 60% speech content in core hours and 100% at the breakfast peak each year.
  • Broadcast at least 85 hours of original, locally-made programming each week.

Quoted from BBC Local Radio Service License
BBC Trust, March 2009

Would you really want to be listening to a ‘local’ radio station broadcasting content in the neighbouring county? If you live in Worcester, would you want to be listening to content specific to Shrewsbury?

I think that both BBC Radio Gloucestershire and BBC HW are amongst the strongest of our local radio stations;  and I don’t think I want any massive changes there. We must look at that the commercial radio sector: cuts in BBC Local Radio would leave community radio and RSLs as the only true form of local radio – there’d be no real competition, and RSLs and community radio stations already have low resources and it wouldn’t be fair for anyone to expect them to fill that gap.

So… what can you do if you want to help save 6 Music, Asian Network and Local Radio?

Well, BBC Asian Network presenter Bobby Friction suggested this:

Here is the BBC Director General’s e-mail address: Don’t be nasty, just tell him to save BBC Asian Network and BBC 6 Music.

Quoted from Bobby’s Twitter page

In addition, in response to the BBC Trust launching one Internet blogger wrote his “recipe” for saving the two stations:

DO e-mail the BBC Trust. Unlike voting for the government your voice matters.
DO encourage others to do the same. A massive response is what’s needed.
DO emphasise that these stations cannot/do not compete with commercial broadcasters.
DO mention that you think the stations justify the license fee.
DO Listen to the stations. Preferably on iPlayer, where I imagine the BBC can see the stats themselves.

DON’T make pointless threats about boycotting the BBC – it isn’t going to happen.
DON’T try and suggest that they cut something more expensive instead. As much as we’d all love to see the back of BBC3, this decision isn’t being made by the accountants.
DON’T swear, use too many exclaimation marks or generally make yourself look like a tool. Your e-mail will presumably be read by a grown-up.
DON’T just cut and paste the e-mail below. Add some of your own thoughts and reasoning.
DON’T accuse the BBC of bowing to political pressure. It’s probably true, but it won’t help.

Quoted from How to Save 6 Music & Asian Network
James Hunt, March 2010

I will be sending in my views later today; the e-mail address you need to use with the BBC Trust is You should also read the rest of James’ article.

Quite a long & complicated post today, but lets make our views known to the BBC and hopefully, someone, somewhere along the line will have the power to do something.

Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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